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40-Year-Old Virgin, The (Unrated) Print E-mail
Friday, 03 October 2008
ImageAnyone who saw Will Ferrell’s comedy “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” surely remembers the scene-stealing comedy antics of the weatherman Brick Tamland, played by Steve Carell.  It’s this deadpan yet goofball style that helped Carell garner attention from audiences and casting directors around the world. Before we knew it, Carell was cast not only in the American version of “The Office,” a show about working in a corporate environment, based on the British series of the same name, but also as the lead in the surprise smash hit “The 40 Year Old Virgin.”

This film was one of the most critically revered movies of the year and ended up grossing a very solid total at the box office, making it one of the most anticipated comedy Blu-ray releases. The premise of this movie, co-written by Carell and director Judd Apatow, is simple and there aren’t too many big twists along the way. Boy named Andy (Carell) meets girl and everything goes so horribly wrong in his first few attempts at “scoring” that boy decides to stop looking for girl. Before he knows it, he’s 40 years old and is working in the stock room at an electronics chain and is hopelessly into things like collecting action figure.

One evening when invited to play poker after work with the guys from the stereo store, the conversation among the group turns to the topic of sex. Everyone chimes in with their latest love-making story but it becomes quickly obvious that Andy is out of his league when talking about this subject. The boys from the stereo store start to put two and two together. The guys had always suspected that Andy was either gay or maybe a serial killer in training, but then it dawns on them: he is a 40-year-old virgin. Audio/video enthusiasts will find that there are some scenes that hit quite close to home in the stereo store. In one scene, two salesmen argue over who is going to get the commission for the latest sale, a common dispute among commissioned retail personnel. Everyone knows the awkward sales negotiations that often occur when the extended warranty is being pitched during a sale and in “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” there is a particularly funny disagreement between the black salesman Jay and an African American customer. The customer wants Jay to throw in the extended warranty on what appears to be a cheap boom box. Some racial name calling starts happening when Jay tells the customer that he cant help a nigga’ out. Andy, who has now been promoted to floor manager, steps in and, before he knows it, is caught up in the middle of a gang-banger turf rivalry argument over a silly extended warranty.

Another funny running gag is how sick everyone in the story is of the Michael McDonald DVD that is playing endlessly on a loop.

Watching a movie that I originally saw theatrically on its opening weekend for the second time in the home environment where there isn’t a room full of people laughing is a good way to test if a movie is really as funny as you remember it the first time. With “The 40-Year old Virgin,” I was surprised at how much stuff that I almost fell on the floor laughing at in the theater seemed lame on a second viewing in my living room. The chest waxing scene that is probably the most memorable scene in the whole movie is really not that funny. However, some of the other gags, like the speed dating and cruising for drunk chicks was funnier on the second viewing.

The film brilliantly walks right on the line between being very offensive and very sweet. At the center of this sex comedy lies a very good message for teens and adults as well. Topics like abstinence and safe sex are discussed in a very funny yet real way. It may seem a little obvious, but the metaphor for Andy’s virginity is represented by the countless toys and action figures that fill Andy’s humble apartment and his unwillingness to open them up speaks volumes about him. It isn’t until he meets the woman (Catherine Keener) from the “We Sell Your Stuff On Ebay” store that he is willing to part with any of his prized collection of toys from his youth. You can also guess what else he is eventually willing to part with, thanks to her influence.

The visual quality of the DVD release was atrocious, and the HD DVD was greatly improved.  The Blu-ray is sadly, not quite as good as the HD DVD version.  This is odd as it seemingly would be simple to deliver the same quality, if not better on Blu-ray.  The bitrate is a little lower on the Blu-ray edition and uses the AVC codec.  The biggest problem with this film's Blu-ray presentation is the fluctuations in fleshtones.  They waver from near perfect to green and yellow.  The colors are also inconsistent on this level.  Black levels can be outstanding one moment and muddy the next.  This is mainly evident in indoor, daytime sequences versus indoor nighttime sequences.  However, the picture does not seem to suffer from compression artifacts, banding or major edge enhancement.  There is some edge enhancement, but nothing quite like the DVD presentation.  A true video enthusiast will find numerous things to pick at, but to the average consumer this picture is going to look just fine.  Still, the image is not as clean and crisp as other films from this new-ish time period.

The audio quality of the Blu-ray disc is not being dinged because of the actual quality, but more for the original sound design.  There is no way around it.  It can't get high marks with its lackluster mix.  The dynamic range is good, the dialogue is clear and stable, and the front channels are nicely balanced.  The LFE channel is fairly decent when used, which is not all that often.  The major problem lies in the overall sound mix.  The surround channels are empty, so it may as well not be a DTS-HD Master Audio track, let alone 5.1.  There is no ambience for any of the locations.  Whether it be inside or outside, the sound design depicts the equivalent of a television studio set.  In the end, a good front heavy mix, but no innovative sound design.

The Blu-ray disc is packed to the hilt with bonus materials.  There are standard definition features from the 2-disc standard DVD release, as well as those from the HD DVD release.  First there is an audio commentary with director Judd Apatow, Steve Carell and other cast members.  This track is never dull to say the least.  However, sometimes there are so many people talking that there is confusion abound.  Focus on Carell's commentary and you won't stop laughing.  "Judd's Video Diaries" are short features from director Apatow (also present on "Forgetting Sarah Marshall").  There is about 20 minutes of deleted scenes that are pretty funny and worth a watch.  There is a batch of raw footage, which includes the uncut footage of the waxing sequence.  There are a couple of television specials, "Cinemax Final Cut" and "Reel Comedy Roundtable" from Comedy Central.

As has become popular, there are a collection of audition tapes and rehearsals.  "You Know How I Know You're Gay" is the full-length sequence of the famous scene.  Date-A-Palooza covers the speed-dating scene.  Line-O-Rama is a bunch of one-liners (also present in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall").  The "1970s Sex Ed Film" is just completely ridiculous.  There are also some smaller bonus materials, which include: Waxing Doc, Gag Reel, and My Dinner with Stormy.

In the end, there are some good life lessons to be learned in “The 40 Year Old Virgin.” It’s got some pretty offensive humor but it’s not so crude, even in the uncut extended version, that a late-teens kid couldn’t handle it. The sex scenes are handled quite tastefully and really aren’t provocative in any way. In the end, it’s a feel-good movie with one of the most bizarre and funny closing credit scenes that I have seen in recent memory and has laughs from beginning to end.  But the video and audio quality will leave you disappointed.

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